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Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning notes: Pouliot, Hedman return to lineup

Tribune staff
Published:   |   Updated: April 14, 2013 at 12:23 AM

WASHINGTON LW Benoit Pouliot returned to the lineup Saturday after sitting out the previous two games as a healthy scratch as the Lightning coaching staff indicated it wanted to look at some of the team's younger players in certain situations.

Pouliot, who entered Saturday with seven goals, 17 points and a plus-seven in 27 games, said he struggled with accepting the decision when he was first told.

“At first I didn't really get it, and it's tough when a coach tells you that you are not going to play for a couple of games,'' he said. “I was a little confused, but after that you realize it's part of the game and part of the business and that's what I did.

“It (stinks) sitting out and at first I was mad, not at the coach or anybody like that, just a matter of not playing is terrible. It's happened to me in the past and I don't like it at all and it's something you don't like to go through.''

Pouliot, acquired from Boston in June, signed a one-year contract July 1 worth $1.8 million. Though he is scheduled to be a restricted free agent at the end of the season, he said he is not aware of any potential discussion about a contract extension.

C Tom Pyatt also returned to the lineup after missing the past two games for the same reasoning.

Hedman returns

The Lightning had a big addition in the lineup Saturday night against Washington as D Victor Hedman was back after missing the past four games with an undisclosed lower-body injury.

Hedman skated with the team during Thursday's morning skate but felt he wasn't at full strength and didn't want to return until he felt completely ready.

“I'm 100 percent, maybe I was 90 (percent) when I talked (Thursday), but I'm 100 now . . . it's been healing very well,'' Hedman said. “I've been skating hard, I feel good on the ice and it's up to me to show that I'm ready to play and play the minutes I'm used to playing.''

Tampa Bay lost three of four games with Hedman out of the lineup.

Milestone reached

Veteran D Sami Salo suited up in his 800th career game Saturday, which is a testament to the steadiness the 37-year-old has brought to the ice throughout a career that has been hampered by injuries.

“It's always meaningful when you are getting close to 1,000 games and with the history that I've had over my years, that's a lot of games,'' Salo said. “I've been fortunate enough to play with three really good organizations and had a great time in all three.

“Tonight is one of those nights you look up at the board and see that it's 800 games and realize not a lot of people get to that mark.”

Playoff time

On Friday, Tampa Bay reassigned C Tyler Johnson and RW Brett Connolly to Syracuse of the American Hockey League, a move Cooper said was to get them some key playing time as the Crunch head toward the start of the playoffs.

“Those younger guys are eligible to play in Syracuse and go on a playoff run with those guys,” Cooper said. “And there is no sense in having them sit out here and not having to play down there. It's the way math works out, and everybody kind of wins. We like our lineup, a little more older and veteran lineup, and those guys get to go down there and make a playoff run.''

In five games after being recalled April 3, Connolly had one goal and 10 shots and was a minus-3. He had a hat trick for Syracuse in Saturday night's 5-1 win against Rochester.

Johnson had three goals and six points and posted a plus-3 rating in 14 games while winning 59.5 percent of his faceoffs. Johnson also scored Saturday for Syracuse.

Nuts and Bolts

Tampa Bay's 21 shots on goal in the second period were a season high; the 20 shots allowed in the first period tied a season high. … C Nate Thompson took a puck to the face off a slap shot from Mike Green that shattered his shield and left him with a cut over his right eye. Thompson returned but only played three shifts early in the second period before leaving the game. … LW Pierre-Cedric Labrie aggravated a previous upper-body injury during Thursday's game against Pittsburgh and is listed as day-to-day.


eerlendsson@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7835 Twitter: erlendssonTBO

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